Alleged Rape Tests Bangkok
Image Credit: Washington National Guard

Alleged Rape Tests Bangkok

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The alleged rape of a 16-year-old Muslim girl by Thai soldiers in Southern Thailand is threatening to push relations between Bangkok and the Islamic south to their lowest ebb since the troubles flared in early 2004.

The incident in Pattani was captured on video by one of the soldiers and has been passed around Thailand’s newsrooms and military offices where some have made the galling and insulting comment that perhaps the girl didn’t resist enough.

One columnist, on International Women’s Day, went so far as to suggest the girl was unfortunately caught-up in the perennial issue of cross culture romance between Buddhist soldiers stationed in the south and local Muslim women, adding the alleged rape had made public an ongoing but unacknowledged issue.

While the age of consent in Thailand is 15, the penal code was amended in 1997 to outlaw anyone under the age of 18 from consenting to sex with those over this age. Thus, even if the girl had consented, the soldiers would still be guilty as they were over the legal age and she wasn’t. Furthermore, they were also in breach of the army’s rules that bar soldiers from mixing with local women.

But suggestions that this was anything but rape have only added insult to injury in the violence-plagued south. The local Muslim population is angry and as one senior Sheik told the local press, “It is disgusting that in our country, soldiers think they can ruin lives and use violence against our women.”

“If the government doesn’t take hard action we will rise up,” he said, adding locals would “not stand by and allow our honor to be put in the mud.”

Police had promised action would be immediate. But locals accused the authorities of dragging their feet on the issue, saying they were reluctant to prosecute those they see as their own.

The two soldiers Winai Klangwichai and Somyos Jantharaphut – both privates – have surrendered to police and will apparently face charges of gang rape and forcibly separating the girl from her parents.

Winai has been accused of rape, while Somyos allegedly made the video and posted it on the Internet.

A separatist rebellion in Pattani and its neighboring provinces of Narathiwat and Yala has claimed at least 4,300 lives over the last eight years, with the Thai military stationing 60,000 troops in the area.

Authorities have been hard-pressed to rein in the bloody conflict in the three Muslim Southern provinces, annexed by Thailand in 1902, while improving relations with the rest of the country, which is Buddhist.

Earlier this month, four soldiers were killed when insurgents detonated a roadside bomb. In January, another four soldiers died in Narathiwat after 40 gunmen overran their camp in a raid that demonstrated the rebels were far more organized than the military had previously thought.

This latest incident has ensured tensions in the south will continue to simmer.

Comments
3
Anath Ratnapol Ali
March 16, 2012 at 21:50

What Thailand should do is to allow the law to prevail. From what I can gather from the article-this is defacto statutory rape and therefore a punishable crime. Secondly, the fact that the accused was in the armed forces on duty in the restive south has also committed misconduct in so far as his employment is concerned which may warrant a dismissal from service.

Thai authorities should in haste proceed with the prosecutions so that the south will know that justice is not only being done but seen to be done! This is very important because the south does not trust the federal government at Bangkok. The trial must be give sufficient publicity in so far as the accused is concerned. On a finding of guilty the punishment must be meted out!

In so far as the south is concerned I don’t see why the Thai authorities in Bangkok invest heavily in proper infrastructure and open up business for the Muslim population. Recently Qatar has agreed to build a mosque-I don’t see why another country should volunteer to build a mosque. The Federal government should do this. Everything should be done including allowing public participation in the south the quell the insurgency. The number of bombs and deaths taking place is shocking in the 3 provinces seeking regional autonomy. This must be done and soon.

Claude
March 13, 2012 at 19:58

Thomas, the headline says “alleged” because the soldiers have not been proven guilty yet, and thus are still innocent in the eyes of the law.

Thomas
March 13, 2012 at 17:41

The title of this article as well as the author is completely ridiculous, ignorant and naive at best! The simple fact the author has the audacity to claim ” ALLEGED RAPE” of this 16yr of girl when the sick Thai rapist’s acording to his own written words “Winai has been accused of rape, while Somyos allegedly made the video and posted it on the Internet” is completely willful ignorance! The fact that this has become an incident of utter embarrassment for the Thai military alone shows this is not an ‘ALLEGED’ but actual event! Justice must be served!!!

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